Mediaite screenshot

Following the foofaraw over Joseph Epstein's dumb Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that Jill Biden — aka "kiddo" — should disavow being called "Dr. Biden" because she's not a medical doctor, the predictable pile-on in rightwing media continues. No longer content to lecture folks that only MD's can be doctors (because what if a doktor of rhetoric tried to do surgery?), we're now treated to a couple of culture wars gate-keepers who insist that not only is Jill Biden unworthy of the title "Dr.," she's not even qualified for her doctorate in education, because they skimmed her dissertation and it is TERRIBLE.

Mind you, the people making those claims are Fox News's Tucker Carlson, a millionaire frozen dinner heir, and the National Review's Kyle Smith, who used to review movies for the New York Post and has Opinions about sluts in modern fiction. Neither has an advanced degree, because those are for poseurs and elitists. Regardless, both are able to tell that Biden's dissertation, as Smith puts it, is "garbage."

Yr Dok Zoom found a copy of Biden's dissertation online, and while I've only skimmed parts of it, it didn't impress me as particularly barbarous. Could it be that both these dicks are cherry picking small issues and pronouncing the entire work useless? Gosh, what a completely expected bit of bad faith!


Carlson, the king of non sequiturs and strawman arguments, was frankly scandalized by how bad Biden's dissertation is. Here's part of his segment from Wednesday, which is the usual Carlson garbage, only with a lot more cognitive dissonance than usual. (Full rant video here)

After a VERY LONG introductory bit in which he pounds home the point that someone with an EdD or a PhD can't save your life at a hospital, Carlson gets down to the nitty: Jill Biden is a DUM DUM.

Dr. Jill needs reading glasses. Either that, or she's borderline illiterate. There are typos everywhere, including in the first graf of the introduction. Dr. Jill can't write, she can't really think clearly either. Parts of the dissertation seems to be written in a foreign language using English words. They're essentially pure nonsense like pig Latin or dogs barking. The whole thing is just incredibly embarrassing. And not simply to poor illiterate Jill Biden, but to the college that considered this crap scholarship. Embarrassing, in fact, to our entire system of higher education, to the nation itself. Jill Biden's doctoral dissertation is our national shame.

We'll go out on a limb here and assume that, like most dissertations, Biden's includes jargon common to the field that may be unfamiliar to the casual reader, which clearly makes Biden, not Carlson, illiterate. He should try reading something in the medical literature, perhaps, where no one uses specialized language or terms unfamiliar to the average Fox host.

Also too, shouldn't someone speaking to ordinary folk avoid newsroom argot like "graf" for paragraph? As for the particulars, indeed, there is a tiny typos in the first graf of her intro" "Undeserved" instead of "underserved." NATIONAL SHAME, and what's more, it probably means Trump gets to stay in office.

Carlson's other gripes are similarly dumb. A redundancy here, a casual use of fractions that don't add up (and are not germane to any conclusions) there. Yeah, sure, they're minor errors that should have been fixed, but Carlson's merely pointing at superficial nitpicks that have nothing to do with Biden's overall points.

Strangely enough, we should add that a recent Chronicle of Higher Education summary of Biden's dissertation didn't fixate at all on such matters. Instead, that article said Biden's dissertation "makes one thing clear: She is well versed in the language of student success." What's more, the Chronicle notes, Biden's 2006 recommendations for strategies to keep students in school "have since become increasingly popular at colleges that serve vulnerable students." Stupid big picture idiot, why aren't they screaming about the typos?

Carlson, of course has a far bigger axe to grind: Joe Biden is stupid.

They're telling you that no one would ever call a man dumb. Okay, well, that's wrong. We call Dr. Jill's husband dumb all the time. In fact, we're going to go full feminist here and admit that Dr. Jill is a lot smarter than the man she married. Not that it's saying much.

Worse, not only is Jill Biden stupid, the fact that she got a joke advanced degree (for which she isn't qualified) proves that higher education is all just a plot to ruin ordinary American Fox News Viewers' lives.

[It's] not a sexism thing. What it is actually is a class thing. We have a class system in this country. And it's based on credentials like the ones Dr. Jill Biden has. A certain sort of person in America gets advanced degrees or works at McKinsey or goes to Yale, not in order to learn, or to create, or to achieve anything inherently impressive or worth having — no! Instead, to justify their power over you. They've got more merit badges, therefore they rule. [...] If you're allowed to point out that Jill Biden isn't really a doctor, maybe not even very bright, then you're just one step away from noticing that the medals on their chests aren't real either.

Man, you gotta love it when a millionaire populist explains that education is merely a scam to advance class war against decent godfearing Americans who wouldn't ever be polluted by too much book learning. Lord knows I love controlling the world with my PhD in rhetoric, so I can look down my nose at people who don't even know what an enthymeme is, haha the fools.

The real danger is that someone might get some media literacy and see Tucker Carlson's cheesy "just folks" rhetoric for the insidious anti-democratic, pro-corporate propaganda it is. Don't want the masses getting too smart or they might ask far more uncomfortable questions than "why does Jill Biden get to call herself 'doctor'"?

And then there's Kyle Smith's turn at the National Review, in which he attempts to prove Biden's dissertation is garbage because it's in a field he thinks isn't serious.

Smith literally tells us in his first graf that he went to Yale, and none of the profs he "knew" there, at Yale, where he went (apparently his peers, at Yale, not his superiors in any way) would ever go by Doctor outside academe. An EdD, he adds, is "something of a joke in the academic world," the mark of a grotty social climber, and Jill Biden doesn't even deserve hers. (Honestly, why are there even doctorates in something like education?)

The piece does, at least, live up to Smith's own tweet teasing it:

And mean it is, though not well-argued or even all that coherent. Lots of adolescent, condescending snark aimed at people who didn't major in anything prestigious, and especially at Jill Biden, whose dissertation

is not an addition to the sum total of human knowledge. It is not a demonstration of expertise in its specific topic or its broad field. It is a gasping, wheezing, frail little Disney forest creature that begs you to notice the effort it makes to be the thing it is imitating while failing so pathetically that any witnesses to its ineptitude must feel compelled, out of manners alone, to drag it to the nearest podium and give it a participation trophy.

Take that, Chronicle of Higher Education! If Biden's recommendations for improving retention of high-risk students have in fact contributed to her field, then it must be a crappy field.

Smith's meanness for its own sake extends well past Biden, which is why his piece is so infuriating. Bad enough that Biden's dissertation is "lacking in rhetorical force, boldness of conception, and original research," but Jill Biden isn't even contributing anything of value to the world: "she has spent a lot of time teaching remedial English to slow learners in community colleges."

As someone whose own teaching emphasis was in basic writing, and who taught LOTS of students who were the first in their families to go to college, I would here like to suggest that my students knew a hell of a lot more about character and hard work than this Yalie prick who shits on the very idea of improving oneself through education, because after all, he knows that some people just aren't worth bothering with.

Kind of makes me want to put Smith on a panel with Carlson to discuss elitism and academic rigor, at least.

Smith's own "rhetorical force," not surprisingly, is as spurious as Carlson's shitty populism (poopulism?). Get a load of this ... load:

Mrs. [Thus he denies the silly woman her pretensions — Dok] Biden until recently taught English composition at NoVa, a small community college in Northern Virginia. To justify addressing her as "Dr." would require a generous view of what constitutes an "academic," and judging by the writing skills evinced by her students ("She very bad teacher and it is hard to pass class. I RECOMMEND NOT TAKE THIS PROFESSOR"), they emerged from her tutelage lacking mastery of even very basic grammar.

Got that? She isn't an academic at all, because Kyle Smith, Yale-educated man of letters, cherry-picked a single disgruntled review from a non-native speaker of English — on RateMyProfessor.com, the website for non-representative teacher evaluations. At a glance, most of Biden's reviews are positive, with a noisy minority of people who thought she grades too hard.

Man, if all you get from a Yale education is a knack for multisyllabic insults and making claims that you can't support with evidence, that place must really suck.

Smith promises a full review of Biden's dissertation next week. Oh joy.

[Mediaite / National Review / Chronicle of Higher Education (free signup required) / Student Retention at Community Colleges: Meeting Students' Needs]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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